It crawls and creeps all around your head. It seeps its way through all the little cracks and creases, leaking through every conversation like water leaking from a glass so barely intact, it seems to have survived a fall from a skyscraper. “He wears thick glasses, he has braces and is quiet all the time – he must be a nerd”. “She’s drinking vegan coffee, listening to Pink Floyd and reading Kafka – that’s a hipster if I’ve ever seen one”. Then followed by the occasional slip-up of guilt and feeling wrong, “no, I don’t know that – who am I to judge?”. Well, I have an answer for you. You’re human.
As involuntary as it is to read a word when you look at it, or to cry when cutting an onion, judging someone when you first see them is beyond your – and all of our – control. You simply can’t not judge someone, as it’s a prerequisite to forming any opinion. When you first see someone, your mind lights up with all sorts of associations and features you can’t help but notice – the person’s age, gender and race are just a few examples. Noticing a certain collection of features present together causes your subconscious to categorize this person in some kind of stereotype, in an attempt to help you predict their interests for a successful first conversation. We always try resisting these
stereotypes as we know they’re just that; we know no one actually falls 100% under one, but the thing is, we’re not the ones who use them. Your conscious mind knows not to judge. Your conscious mind knows not to believe stereotypes. But our subconscious mind is a whole other story, and it’s a story we just can’t change.
So what are we supposed to do then? Not much really. You see, a judgment is nothing more than a bunch of thoughts in your head: they’re completely harmless until they manifest into behavior – that’s what we need to work on. You get hungry when you’re on a diet, so you resist eating – you don’t resist getting hungry in the first place. As long as you let your judgment be just that, you’ll never be in the wrong; you can subconsciously judge someone all you want, what really matters is to completely eliminate any result of this judgment.
Nonetheless, many seem to go at this from a different perspective. Movements such as ‘All Bodies are Beautiful’ definitely have good intent. In this example, their concern for unrealistic depictions of how bodies should look in the media is one I agree with. There are some aspects of this movement I do strongly disagree with, though. These include the fact that there is a very fine line between working to end “fat-shaming” and encouraging some to stay overweight or obese. No person should ever be shamed or treated differently for having any body type, but to advertise “loving your body” as a means of accepting it as it is in any form rather than taking care of it is quite perplexing to me – being overweight does come with many health risks, and that is simply a fact. We’ve gone from preventing negative judgment to making everyone feel good about themselves, completely disregarding the fact that some things you should – objectively – not feel good about. Prioritizing how people feel over what’s good for them in order to be “open minded” is why I disagree with so many movements these days, not just parts of this one in particular. And yes, sometimes how a person feels isn’t the most important aspect of
their life in the long run.
We try so hard to stop judging each other, that we end up creating situations where any kind of response from a different party, be it advice or even a fact, is considered judgment. We try so hard to sugar-coat all truths in fear of hurting anyone’s feelings, that the sugar has completely taken over the entire flavor. We try so hard not to say anything that might come off as judgmental, that even a thought out opinion can be forever unspoken. We try so hard not to judge people, that we’ve forgotten how to talk. It is your nature. Do not embrace it, but accept it. Let it exist, but don’t act on it. This world is just one big courtroom. There is no jury, no witnesses or attorneys.
We’re all judges and no one can change that.